Jack Klugman, Odd Couple Star, Dies at 90

Celebrity News Dec. 24, 2012 AT 8:00PM
Jack Klugman in 1972. Jack Klugman in 1972. Credit: American Broadcasting Companies

Television has lost one of its greats.

Jack Klugman, the star of the classic 1970s shows The Odd Couple as well as Quincy, M.E., died on Monday, Dec. 24 at age 90, the Associated Press reports. Klugman passed away at home in Northridge, Calif. with wife Peggy at his side; he is also survived by sons Adam and David Klugman, as well as stepsons Randy Wilson and Phil Crosby Jr. and two grandchildren.

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Winning two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe at the height of his career, Klugman was born in South Philadelphia to Russian immigrants. He landed the role as Oscar Madison, the brash, hard-living, slovenly man who, recently divorced, shares an NYC apartment with his polar opposite: also-divorced Felix Unger (Tony Randall), a fussy, intellectual neat-freak. (The smash TV show was based on a hit play and film.)

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In addition to his 100-plus TV credits (The Twilight Zone and The Defenders), Klugman leaves behind many celebrated film performances in works including Goodbye, Columbus, The Detectives, Days of Wine and Roses and, in particular, 1957's 12 Angry Men, in which he starred alongside Henry Fonda as Juror No. 5.

He played a forensic pathologist in Quincy, M.E., which ran from 1976 to 1984. Also a noted theater actor, Klugman returned to TV later in the 1980s playing John Stamos' dad in You Again?

He and former Odd Couple costar reunited for a 1997 revival of The Sunshine Boys; Randall had to convince Klugman, who had lost a vocal chord to cancer in 1989, to return to the stage.

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"My career was over," Klugman told USA TODAY in 1997. "I couldn't even swallow: I had to lay on my side. I lived alone, could barely whisper. I cut off everybody." But when the pair reunited -- first for an Odd Couple charity reading -- everybody was crying . . . The cast, the audience, these people who had paid $1,000 a seat."

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